Massive computer and networking issues prevented this post from going up earlier. Hopefully they are all solved.
Race 4 - Maiden Special Weight, 6 furlongs, 2yo
A bunch of well-bred colts and geldings dot the landscape in today's second race - a sprint maiden special. The rail horse, 1-High Card (6/1), will make his first career start after a series of solid works over the Keeneland main track over the last four months. He's out of an A.P. Indy mare (Light From Above) and A.P. has had some decent success with his offspring over synthetic tracks, so that's probably not a bad thing in the pedigree.
6-Devil Train (5/1) might be the best value play in this race. He was well beaten in his debut effort but the winner, Tiger Mike, absolutely blew the field away that day so there is no shame in being the clear 2nd best. The Arlington Park to Keeneland move is a solid one and the switch from Graham to Leparoux only enhances his chances, in my mind. He could be a great play at 5/1.
Race 7 - N2X Allowance, 7 furlongs, 3up, Fillies & Mares
The seventh race might be an opportunity to take down a couple of favorites in 7-Happy Week (5/2) and 2-Underling (3/1).
Happy Week is a pure "dirt only" horse coming into this race having never touched a synthetic or turf surface in her career. She's shown a lot of tactical speed in her races at Saratoga and Churchill but there has to be some serious questions about her ability to transfer that form to Keeneland. If you ignore the surface, she's the clear class of the field - no doubt about it. But the surface issues are real and at 5/2 on the morning line, this filly seems a bit of an underlay.
Underling tried running on turf last summer at Saratoga where she finished well up the track. That could have been due to the distance (1 1/16 miles) rather than the surface since she bounced back to win consecutive sprints on the dirt. Or it could be a footing issue. All of her top races have been at 5/12 or 6 furlongs on a surface other than what she's trying today. Like Happy Week, it's tough to take short odds on a filly with those kinds of question marks.
If we toss the top two choices on the morning line we are left with a very evenly matched field of fillies but a field where there are clearly two top synthetic horses: 8-Tantamount (6/1) and 9-Jocata (8/1). Tantamount's only Poly start, and her only start at Keeneland, saw her win for fun against N1X'ers in the spring. She caught a really soft pace that day so it's questionable as to whether this race will set up as well for her. Jocata has a sparkling 4-2-2-0 record on synthetic tracks including a win over the Keeneland surface in an N2L race back in April. She followed that up with a second at against N1X company at Arlington Park before a running 3rd a couple of times on dirt. She's got a cold jockey in the irons (Borel - 0/14) which isn't something that you want to see, but the 8/1 ML odds help to mitigate a bit of that risk.
Race 8 - Jessamine Stakes, 1 1/16 miles (Turf), 2yo, Fillies
The feature race on the card is a turf stakes that is likely to have an impact on the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Filly Turf.
Tough to know what to make of the Irish shipper in here, 1-Cloneylass (IRE), a filly that ran a decent 3rd in a listed stake at Tipperary in early July but will try running over six furlongs for the first time in her career. Additionally, I'm not sure this filly was facing all that much in those last two efforts. Dutrow is always dangerous sending out a runner for the first time but this filly might be in a tough spot.
11-Kathmanblu (7/2) enters this race off a strong second to Fancy Point in the PG Johnson at Saratoga last time out. The pace in that stakes race was a tough one for a closer to make up ground and Kathmanblu was the only closer in the field to make up significant ground in the stretch. Horses that ran 1-2-3 after a ¼ of a mile ended up finishing 1-3-4. The fact that Katmanblu was able to make up ground in a race where no other horse was able to do the same earns her bonus points in my mind. The odds won't be great, but with Leparoux in the irons and a strong race in her last effort, 7/2 could be great value on the board.